2012 Senate Election Predictions

Why not pile everything in at the end? The Sixth Party System likes handicapping as much as the next person, so let’s get to it:

Election Landscape: 21 Democrats, 10 Republicans, 2 Independents; 23 Dem caucus members versus 10 GOP.
Overall Senate Landscape: 51D to 47R to 2I (53D to 47R)

Arizona (retiring R)-Jeff Flake (R) versus Richard Carmona (D):

Flake is too odd to be a sure fire victor, which, coupled with Richard Carmona’s positioning as a right of center candidate, leads me to believe Carmona will win. He is one of the strongest localized candidates the Dems have recruited in a decade. His strategy will lay the groundwork for a further Dem penetration into red, Midwestern and Western territory.

Estimate: Carmona wins, 49.3% to 48.9% D+1 R-1

California (D incumbent)-Dianne Feinstein (D) versus Elizabeth Emken (R):

Feinstein is invincible in California, for one, she is to the right of Boxer (and most Democrats), which allows her to win a significant amount of voters in the Central Valley and Greater San Diego area. Secondly, she maintains liberal support based on her legacy in San Francisco following the Harvey Milk and Mayor Mascone. The base has not been pleased with her conservative ways in quite some time, and yet she has never received a serious challenge. Also, it helps the GOP conceded this seat by running a far-right campaign, just like Carly Fiorina did in 2010. Invincible, I tells ya.

Estimate: Feinstein wins, 64% to 34% No Net Change

Connecticut (Retiring I)-Chris Murphy (D) versus Linda McMahon (R):

Money talks, and Linda McMahon has tons of it. She has been attacking Murphy very hard, and it seems to have had an effect. However, a blue state is a blue state, and only a strong ideas candidate with integrity and credibility can pull off this upset—McMahon is not that candidate. Murphy fits the state well, as he could easily be a shill for the financial services sector, which is essentially the number one issue in CT political elite circles.

Estimate: Murphy wins, 53% to 46% D+1 I-1

Delaware (D Incumbent)-Tom Carper (D) v. Kevin Wade (R) v. Alex Pires (I):

Interesting blowout race, as Alex Pires has flanked Carper to the left, which may shift his margin of victory. Wade is a weak candidate, sort of a business Tea Party type. He makes incendiary remarks and uses faulty attacks to often to beat Carper. Anyway, Carper has a lock on this state, perennially (at least until the GOP begins to accept moderates back into the fold).

Estimate: Carper wins, 62% to 32% to 4% No Net Change

Florida (D Incumbent)-Bill Nelson (D) versus Connie Mack (R):

Nelson is a very unique and above-the-frey type of politician. Mack is trying is darndest to tie Nelson to Obama, but the voters of Florida know Nelson is his own type of Democrat, albeit predominantly liberal. Mack was actually a strong candidate, but he cannot beat Nelson, who is stronger. At least Mack and his imploding wife will have each other when they both lose their races. Even with Romney winning the state, Nelson will win.

Estimate: Nelson wins, 55% to 44% No Net Change

Hawaii (Retiring D)-Mazie Hirono versus Linda Lingle (R):

Cannot fault Lingle for a second; she is a strong candidate, a firm moderate, and a reasonable policymaker. However, the native son being on the ballot, and Hirono representing the island’s views closely, means Lingle is out to sea. She would have beat Ed Case, and truth be told, I would have voted for her over his slimey behind.

Estimate: Hirono wins, 57% to 43% No Net Change

Indiana (Retiring R, sort of*)-Joe Donnelly (D) v. Tricky Dick Mourdock (R) v. Andrew Horning (L):

The asterisk is because Dick Lugar, one of the great statesman currently in government, lost his primary; he did not want to retire, but the Tea Party got him. We all know Mourdock has repeatedly shot himself in the foot on various issues, not just God-created rape, but even without those blunders, Donnelly could have won. He is a centrist, much like the center-right electorate of the state, and in absolute terms, he is ideologically closer to Lugar than Mourdock. He is banking on people realizing this, and voting for him. I think they will. He is a strong candiate, who would have held Lugar to around 60%; Mourdock will not fare as well. Additionally, Horning will siphon a significant portion of anti-GOP conservatives that otherwise would have bit the bullet and voted for Mourdock. Horning is your classic libertarian, but with a slightly better niche combating the GOP from within, then leaving when his attempts let to no avail.

Estimate: Donnelly wins 51% to 46% to 3% D+1 R-1

Maine (Retiring R)-Angus King (I) v. Charles Summers (R) v. Cynthia Dill (D) v. Danny Dalton (I) v. Andrew Ian Dodge (I) v. Steve Woods (I):

Only way popular former Governor Angus “The” King loses is if Dill siphons enough far-left votes from him. Luckily, the presence of another liberal in the race, as well as three conservatives, will splinter all ideological groups, and the race ill become a cult of personality and name recognition. Both of those factors leave King atop the standings, and the king will join the Senate, where he will caucus with the Democrats. Interesting because all six leading, as in debate participating, candidates support Roe v. Wade, including the Tea Partier Dodge and Republican Summers.

Estimate: King 48% to Summers 31% to Dill 17% I+1 R-1

Maryland (D Incumbent)-Ben Cardin (D) v. Dan Bongino (R) v. Rob Sobhani (I) v. Dean Ahmad (L):

The presence of Sobhani attracts votes from both sides, limiting Cardin’s margin of victory, but also stymieing Bongino’s ability to attract a plurality. Non-race.

Estimate: Cardin 56% to Bongino 25% to Sobhani 12% to Ahmad 1% No Net Change

Massachusetts (R Incumbent)-Elizabeth Warren (D) versus Scott Brown (R):

Excellent race. Two strong candidates. Here is how both parties should proceed, by selecting district/state tailor made candidates that can attract voters of the opposite party. In this case, Scott Brown does not attract Dems that much, but he is incredibly strong among the state’s 50% Independents. However, this race will surely end in his defeat. Warren, though a member of the Harvard elite, has the important pedigree as an outsider turned insider reformer, and it is quite difficult to make her look bad. Brown has tried the carpetbagger stuff, but Warren fits the state’s interests well, and the voters will make that clear. Even in defeat, Scott Brown is one of the best GOP campaigners in the biz today.

Estimate: Warren wins, 49.2% to 48.3% D+1 R-1

Michigan (D Incumbent)-Debbie Stabenow (D) v. Pete Hoekstra (R) v. Scotty Boman (L):

Remember that racist ad with a Berkeley alum pandering to xenophobia? We were so proud to see one of our own contribute to racist propaganda!! Anyway, Hoekstra is not that weak of a candidate: yes, he is pron to verbal gaffs and racist/anti-Islamic behavior, but he has a manner that resonates with suburban males. However, that is not enough to overcome Stabenow. She has adeptly positioned herself as Ag committee chairman, which will benefit her in the rural parts of the state that Dems have trouble in. Of course, if a farm bill passed, that would be even better, but most concerned voters understand that issue was on the House side. Anywho, Stabenow wins by a wider margin than she should of.

Estimate: Stabenow wins, 56% to 40% to 3% No Net Change

Minnesota (D Incumbent)-Amy Klobuchar (D) versus Kurt Bills (R):

Way off the grid. Klobuchar us perhaps the best Democrat in the nation at attracting GOP voters, even though she is liberal. This race may see a 30 to 45 point margin. Here is an example of a candidate who has cultivated her electorate well.

Estimate: Klobuchar wins, 66% to 34% No Net Change

Mississippi (R Incumbent)-Roger Wicker (R) v. Albert Gore (D) (and some other cons):

Wicker is a vulnerable republican, as he is not very prolific at any policy field and has definite weaknesses in personality. However, the Dems have conceded this seat, for no apparent reason that to justify not spending money on a losing race. So you get some old foggy name Al Gore and that’s that.

Estimate: Wicker wins, 62% to 35% to 3% others No Net Change

Missouri (D Incumbent)-Claire McCaskill v. Todd Akin (R) v. Jonathan Dine (L):

Yup, never good to justify, or legitimize rape. McCaskill would have lost to Sarah Steelman by a good 7 points, but Akin is out of touch enough to cost his party this election. On merit, McCaskill does deserve to win, as she is a moderate in a moderate state, but Obama will drag her down a little. Essentially, to make up for the structural disadvantage, she needed the other guy to mess up and make himself look unelectable. Well, Akin did… loser. Dine will get the conservative voters who were disenchanted with Akin, but not enough to simply stay home.

Estimate: McCaskill 48.8% to 46.3% to 3% No Net Change

Montana (D Incumbent)-Jon Tester (D) v. Denny Rehberg (R) v. Dan Cox (L):

Suing the government because firefighters did not save enough of your large estate is not a flattering look for a politician. Such is the case with Denny Rehberg, whose selfishness and bad-guy qualities may cost him the race. Additionally, Dan Cox is a fairly strong Lib candidate, and will steal some votes otherwise allocated to Rehberg. However, structural factors, and Tester’s difficulty disassociating himself from leadership, will lead Rehberg to gain a promotion he does not deserve.

Estimate: Rehberg wins, 48.3 to 48.1 to 3.4 R+1 D-1

Nebraska (Retiring D)-Deb Fischer (R) versus Bob Kerrey (D):

Ben Nelson probably could have weathered the storm, even with the PPACA vote, but he chose to quit. Though I have had a lot of personal animus toward Nelson over the years, he has been valuable in key votes, and for that, liberals should be thankful (to some extent). Anyway, Deb Fischer was the second weakest potential candidate to emerge from the GOP primary, ahead of Tea Partier Don Stenberg, but behind established candidate Jon Bruning. And Bob Kerrey was the strongest potential candidate. However, the deficit in this race, caused by the hatred of Obama and rightward, intolerant turn of the general electorate, has left this race solidly for Fischer. Had Kerrey maintained his presence in NE, he could win, but being a “New York liberal” does not play well in Kearney.

Estimate: Fischer wins, 56% to 43% R+1 D-1

Nevada (R Incumbent)-Dean Heller (R) versus Shelley Berkeley (D):

Not hard to diagnose this race. Heller is from the rural northern part of the state, which explains his Tea Party conservatism, and Berkeley is a New York transplant from Vegas. Statewide elections in Nevada always hinge on either a) massive turnout in Las Vegas and Henderson, or b) the swing electorate in Reno and Carson City. This race will not benefit from heightened turnout like 2008, as home foreclosures and unemployment have made pro-Dem turnout less likely. Therefore, the race will be decided in Reno, where Berkeley is unpopular and is seen a too closely aligned with Vegas interest (and some conflict of interest stuff). Heller, on the other hand, has very little baggage other than his voting record, and can appeal to people with his reform minded rhetoric. I expect split ticket voters to favor Heller, as pragmatic moderates may see Obama’s predicament as not solely his doing, but nonetheless not support Berkeley’s elitist caricature.

Estimate: Heller wins, 51% to 49% No Net Change

New Jersey (D Incumbent)-Bob Menendez (D) v. Joe Kyrillos (R) v. Ken Kaplan (L):

Menendez seemed vulnerable going into the race, but Kyrillos has an incredible amount of trouble explaining his views on matters that put New Jerseyeans at odds with national Republicans. He still has not explained how he would vote on abortion legislation, which although it is not the premier issue, is just a microcosm of his policies as a whole. Menendez wins by default.

Estimate: Menendez wins, 56% to 40% to 3% No Net Change

New Mexico (Retiring D)-Martin Heinrich versus Heather Wilson (R):

Wilson is a strong candidate, with an interesting pedigree and reasonable stances for her electorate. However, New Mexico is moving away from the party, f not the values, that she is connected to. Heinrich was thought to be a much stronger candidate, but has proven lackluster; only good enough to win. Some might say that is good enough.

Estimate: Heinrich wins 54% to 45% No Net Change

New York (D Incumbent)-Kirsten Gillibrand (D, Working Families, and Independence) versus Wendy Long (R and Conservative):

Gillibrand has moved to the left since coming under the guidance of Chuck Schumer, and is being groomed to possibly be the first female president of the nation. Fortunately for her, she is well liked in all parts of the state, and as an indicator of how center-right voters view her, she received the Independence party endorsement. She will win handedly.

Estimate: Gillibrand wins, 68% to 28% No Net Change

North Dakota (Retiring D)-Rick Berg (R) versus Heidi Heitkamp:

Heitkamp is a superb candidate. In a midterm election, she might have won. However, in this presidential election year, she may be tied to Obama, and may lose the race by a slim margin. Berg has problems conveying his accomplishments, but his party identification may prove enough to gain a plurality. Too bad, Heidi is an ideas person to boot.

Estimate: Berg wins, 50.6% to 49.1% R+1 D-1

Ohio (D Incumbent)-Sherrod Brown (D) versus Josh Mandel (R):

Mandel is a very creepy and awkward guy. I do not doubt he patriotic, and I do not doubt in his heart, he believes what he stands for, but I do question how aware of social forces and inequity he is aware of. Watching the debates between he and Brown, it looked quite forced and gimmicky how he was trying to pigeonhole Brown. Brown was talking about policy, and Mandel was rolling in mud and trying to mislead people. His youth means he will eventually become Governor or Senator, but it will not be during this election. Some split ticketing, in favor of Brown (especially in the Southeast portion of the state).

Estimate: Brown wins, 53% to 46% No Net Change

Pennsylvania (D Incumbent)-Bob Casey (D) versus Tom Smith (R):

Tom Smith is not ready to join government. He has a very low level of understanding about both politics and policy, and I do not think that would change with experience. I think he would simply end up totting the party line in a mindless fashion. Watching the debates, it is clear Casey has learned from his position on the Joint Committee on Taxation, whereas Smith knows almost nothing. The surge for Smith has been because of the millions of dollars he has spent attacking Casey. It may have cut Casey’s margin, but will not change the election outcome.

Estimate: Casey wins, 58% to 40% No Net Change

Rhode Island (D Incumbent)-Sheldon Whitehouse (D) versus Barry Hinckley (R):

Whitehouse and his cohort Senator Reed are highly entrenched in Rhode Island. Even though Representative Cicilline is facing a tough reelection, almost all of detractors from Cicilline will still support Whitehouse. He is a smart legislator who minds the interest of his people. On the other hand, Hinckley has not gained any momentum as he has not found a line of attack that works against Whitehouse.

Estimate: Whitehouse wins, 63% to 36% No Net Change

Tennessee (R Incumbent)-Bob Corker (R) v. Mark Clayton (D) v. Shaun Crowell (L):

Bob Corker, though a millionaire, was once considered a conservative reformer who may work independently of his party. Every now and then, this permutation of Corker still shows up on a procedural vote, but he has otherwise become the party’s median member. His Democratic opponent is an incendiary dixie-crat who the party disavowed in a state with a relatively strong bench. Crowell will take more votes from Clayton than Corker, but Corker will get some of the Democrat votes that might otherwise have stayed home. Crappy situation for the Dems, but Corker could not have wished for a easier election.

By the way, Clayton’s “Issues” tab on his campaign page is quite interesting. He praises Hillary Clinton and talks about “Snoopy bills” (privacy rights), while simultaneously .

(TN Clayton Senate Race 2012

Estimate: Corker wins, 71% to 24% to 4% No Net Change

Texas (R Incumbent)-Ted Cruz (R) v. Paul Sadler (D) v. John Myers (L):

Ted Cruz will fit nicely with the Rand Paul-Rob Johnson-Mike Lee-Jim DeMint faction of the Senate. Texas will become a purple state within the decade, but its current constitution is bright red. Paul Sadler is conservative, but the Texan electorate has no tolerance for a  Democrat right now, period. Cruz will win despite Myers operating in the same space, as well as some other candidates. But that would only be a problem if the race was close, which it won’t be.

Estimate: Cruz wins, 55% to 44% to 2% No Net Change

Utah (R Incumbent)-Orrin Hatch (R) versus Scott Howell (D):

Hatch lucked out of the eponymous Tea Party state convention, and then the election was over. No much to say, except Hatch is as much a product of this era of ideological shift as any other Senator. He was an original sponsor of the DREAM Act in the Senate, but has since become an Obama conspiracy theorist and bad-faith dealer.

Estimate: Hatch wins, 68% to 31% No Net Change

Vermont (I Incumbent)-Bernie Sanders v. MacGovern (R) v. odd bunch:

I am watching the Vermont Senate debate right now, and man, between the pro-marijuana, China is Big Bird lady, and hippie burnout who thinks Sanders is a warmonger, to the lady who says bills need to be a few words, and the Austrian engineer who thinks the Democrats and Republicans are really only one party, Sanders looks outright moderate and reasonable. If there was one person I could work for in Congress, it would be Bernie Sanders. He will win this one with a wide margin, even though MacGovern isn’t that for from the median voter in suburban areas of eastern Vermont.

The moderator questioned him pretty hard about why he supports the F-35, which he was largely defensive in response. Interesting turn of events when Sanders is the pro-military industrial complex candidate. I actually agree with his pragmatism—local jobs valuable and should be preserved, while the greater policy should be changed.

Estimate: Sanders wins, 76% to 23% (1% for all other candidates) No Net Change

Virginia (Retiring D)-Tim Kaine (D) versus George Allen (R):

George Allen wants his old seat back, and the conservative political elite want it back for him. In this newly purple state, Tim Kaine and George Allen both hold a soft spot in the electorate, one for his father’s coaching experience, the other for his stewardship of Virginia into a job creating machine. Both are ex-Governors, both have high name recognition, and both wield incredible sums of money. This one will not be as close as it could, but in this Obama year, expect high turnout in Northern Virginia, ensuring Kaine’s victory.

Estimate: Kaine wins, 51% to 48% No Net Change

Washington (D Incumbent)-Maria Cantwell (D) versus Michael Baumgartner (R):

Cantwell is a New Democrat and her ideological pairing of state business interest, like Boeing and the tech sector, with her ability to speak on social issues, make her a well positioned candidate in her Washington. Baumgartner is also a unique Republican, as he seems to be the next generation of Tea Party deconstructionist, but seemingly a little more selective on what he is nihilistic about.

Estimate: Cantwell wins, 57% to 42% No Net Change

West Virginia (D Incumbent)-Joe Manchin (D) versus John Raese (R):

Rematch of the last special election, which was much closer than this one will be. Raese does not have credibility with voters and in many ways works against workers’ rights that some in West Virginia still value. On the other side, Manchin has tailored an localized image as the last protector of West Virginian interests, including coal in all forms and a commercial of him shooting a target with Obama’s face on it (pretty fucked up, regardless of who is President). His independence from his party, as well as his paternalistic approach (which he had as Governor), will lead him to an easy victory. Shelley Moore-Capito could have given Manchin a run for his money, but Raese cannot.

Estimate: Manchin wins, 59% to 40% No Net Change

Wisconsin (Retiring D)-Tommy Thompson (R) versus Tammy Baldwin (D):

In the most polarized state in the nation, it is possible this race replicates the electoral geography of the recent Scott Walker recall election. Both Thompson and Baldwin are strong candidates, Thompson because of his highly esteemed record in Wisconsin, and Baldwin because of the progressive views she holds. These two dimensions provide the two contending interests (labor, youth and educated progressives versus religious, rural and suburban conservatives). Pragmatic conservatives are not necessarily too far removed from Baldwin ideologically to inhibit their crossover.

Estimate: Thompson wins, 49.7 to 49.2 R+1 D-1

Wyoming (Incumbent R)-John Barrasso (R) versus Tim Chestnut (D):

Wyoming is the most conservative state in the country, which makes it even nicer that Chestnut is running as an authentic, reasoned liberal. The only major caveat is his energy policy, but being the way Wyoming is constituted, that makes perfect sense. Barrasso is well-entrenched, even if he is one of the worst offenders of misleading voters, distorting the truth, and operating in bad faith when he legislates (although, is legislating against his ideology?). Barrasso should imitate his compadre Mike Enzi, who is on the far-right, and yet has decent working relations with numerous moderates and liberals in the Senate. Still waiting for Freudenthal to run, maybe in six years…

Estimate: Barrasso wins, 68% to 29% No Net Change

Overall Change In The Senate: No Net Change! The Democrats will gain some new seats, while losing some in the Midwest, which will all be offset. Even two independents who caucus with the Democrats will return to the Senate (King will caucus with the majority, which will be Democratic once more).

I hope you enjoyed this set of predictions and did your civic duty and voted! If you have not voted early, make sure to take some time to vote today!!

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Posted on November 6, 2012, in 2012 Election, Election Predictions, Elections, Party System and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think that US President Caricatures might be a way to sum up these elections. What do you think?

    • I agree. Opponents of Obama think he is a radical big government socialist (not realizing how similar he is to George W. Bush) and opponents of Romney think he is a vulture capitalist who will sell the country to the highest bidder (when he is clearly a moderate). Neither version is correct, but low information voters take cues in various ways, and pinning a candidate to a simple, destructive premise is a good way to decrease support for him/her. The sad state of American politics…

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